Pick Your Battles

pick your battles at workYou’re the boss. You know best. And you’re willing to fight to the death to prove it, right? Wrong. Effective leaders know that, as the popular country song goes, “You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em.” While it’s good to have a point of view, it’s simply not productive to try and win every point or argument. True, we are taught to win from an early age — and that’s okay unless it’s taken to an extreme. Try and win every argument, at any cost, and you’ll be viewed as an inflexible leader who doesn’t value other opinions and ideas. Instead, try changing up your position or simply agree to disagree (no whining, grunting or anger allowed). What’s more, don’t focus on who is right, but what is right. That’s what successful leaders do.

There’s a popular children’s book called, “No No Yes Yes,” which highlights yes and no behaviors. Here are few yes and no behaviors related directly to picking your battles.

No No…

… thinking it’s your way or the highway. It will build enemies at work, crush employee morale, squelch candid communication, corrode company culture and remain stuck in a rut.

… believing you’re the only one who understands this business. You’re simply not. True, you might know everything there is to know about a particular product or industry but you might not be the best at knowing how to market a gizmo or market it to your industry. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. You, too!

… being right all the time. Divorce your ego and learn to laugh at your mistakes, errors or misunderstandings. Moreover, make a point to show your human side, letting people know about when you weren’t 100 percent right about something. Sure, we all want to do our jobs right, but it’s simply not possible all the time. Good leaders can admit they are wrong, look beyond themselves for the answers and then move on.

Yes Yes…

… opening the floor for debate. Healthy, heated discussions can be fruitful as long as no one is hurling grapes. If you’re afraid everyone will go bananas if you hold a healthy debate, you might need a better facilitator, such as your MAP consultant to help. Or, you might simply need to evaluate the game rules for debate. But don’t be fearful of strong discussions — they’re great for bonding, team building and cultivating stellar ideas that can lead to company profit, growth and other rewards.

… addressing know-it-alls on the team. There’s always someone in the crowd who just loves to hear themself talk and be right. Allowing them to steal and hog the floor can be a real timewaster and team-buster, even if that person might sometimes or often be right. If that’s you, pipe down, pace your comments and listen. If that’s someone else, direct him or her to pipe down, pace their comments, and listen. Have a candid conversation with that person, possibly asking them to come up with some guidelines that would help them to listen more and talk a little less when a group discussion (that means more than one person!) is taking place.

… going to bat for someone or something. If you’ve managed to pick your battles along the way, you’ll be much more successful at getting the results and the winnings you want and deserve. As MAP regularly suggests, focus on the vital few (battles) instead of the trivial many.

Got another No No or Yes Yes to add?


​ The Disciplined Leader

What do the best leaders have in common? The answer is one word: Discipline. A disciplined leader is one who identifies and focuses on the Vital Few: the 20% of activities that will drive 80% of the results. Learn More

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